Rockets Rookie Copying Skill From Bulls’ Zach LaVine, Lakers’ LeBron James

Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls’ offseason has featured plenty of trade rumors around Zach LaVine. But this time, LaVine’s name is being dropped for a more encouraging reason.

Set to be presented with his ratings for the popular video game, NBA 2K24, Houston Rockets rookie Cam Whitmore said he hoped one aspect of his game, in particular, would be similar to the Bulls’ two-time All-Star as well as Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.

Their dunk packages.

“On dunks? I would say Bron or Zach LaVine,” Whitmore said on August 13, via the team’s official X feed. “I try to model my dunks after them.”

Whitmore also said he hoped to have the “Giant Slayer” – which boosts a user’s MyPlayer’s (or avatar’s) ability to make shots over taller defenders, per – and other various shooting and playmaking badges and hopes to get his 74 overall rating to an 80 by the end of the season.

LaVine’s rating is 87 overall, per, but doesn’t have the “Giant Slayer” badge.

That is for the MyPlayer mode which has different badges from ones attached to pre-existing players. He does, however, have a combination of other badges that come close to having the same effect as well as a collection of shooting and playmaking badges.

LeBron James, Zach LaVine, and the Dunk Contest

James, who received a 96 overall rating, has never participated in a Slam Dunk Contest despite still boasting tremendous athleticism, teasing fans for years with his pre-game antics, and saying in 2009 that he would do so in 2010. He has however expressed confidence that he would win the competition if he were to enter it in years past.

“I’m not against it,” he said, per Ethan Skolnick for Bleacher Report in 2014. “I just don’t want to do it. “

LaVine has participated in two dunk contests and won them both, taking home back-to-back crowns in 2015 and 2016 while still with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

This past season, seven years after winning the last of those two titles, LaVine was still up to his high-flying ways with the Bulls after shaking off some rust due to an offseason spent rehabbing from an arthroscopic procedure on his knee.

“Until training camp, I didn’t pick up a basketball,” LaVine said, per NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson in December. “Not jumping or working out or doing anything you usually do during the offseason to prepare yourself for the season, I pretty much got that on the run during games.”

LaVine, 28, averaged 22.1 points on 55.6% true shooting with 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists (to 2.4 turnovers), and 1.1 steals while shooting 36.9% from deep up to that point last season. After that, he averaged 26.5 points on 63% true shooting with 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists (2.3 turnovers), and shot 37.9% from deep through the end of the regular season.

Bulls Add to Backend of Roster

The trade rumors have slowed down for LaVine and the Bulls for now. But they still had one official roster spot, and two considering Carlik Jones’ contract won’t become fully guaranteed until January.

They filled the open spot by bringing back forward Terry Taylor, whom they claimed off waivers from the Indiana Pacers in February.

Terry returns to Chicago in what could be the “final move” of the Bulls’ offseason, per Johnson on August 14, after averaging 4.0 points and 1.6 rebounds in five appearances last season. He also averaged 20.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in seven appearances with the Windy City Bulls in the G League.

Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments